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The 1991 Law & Order Episode You Totally Forgot Philip Seymour Hoffman Starred In

Before his untimely death in 2014, Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of the most acclaimed actors in the industry, with a body of work that included a stunning number of absolute masterpieces (with directors like Sidney Lumet, Spike Lee, and frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson). 

But everyone, even legends like Hoffman, has to start somewhere. And in Hoffman's case, his very first screen role came in an episode of a series that has become somewhat famous as a breeding ground for working actors: "Law & Order."

While Hoffman's career as a movie star was still years away, the fresh-faced performer, only in his early twenties (per Biography) at the time, landed a job on the then-new crime series created by Dick Wolf. The show, only in its first season at the time, would also go on to have an illustrious future. Here's how the trajectories of both "Law & Order" and Philip Seymour Hoffman briefly intersected.

Both Hoffman and Samuel L. Jackson appear in the episode

The episode in question is "Law & Order" Season 1, Episode 14: "The Violence of Summer." It deals with the attack of a TV news reporter and Stone and Robinette's (Michael Moriarty and Richard Brooks) attempts to get the victim to testify, lest the perps be let off.

Hoffman is one of the youths charged in the attack, and even though it's a small role, you can see glimmers of the future star that Hoffman was poised to become. And fascinatingly, he's not the only future star to appear in the episode: Defense Attorney Louis Taggert will be extremely recognizable to modern viewers of the episode, played as he is by Samuel L. Jackson.

As if that weren't enough, the episode's credits on IMDb feature another strange anomaly: A second credited actor named Phillip Hoffman. This second Hoffman, who according to IMDb is still working today, plays the part of an unnamed hypnotherapist in the episode.

In any case, "The Violence of Summer" is a very notable early part in the career of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who even back in 1991 seemed to possess the unforgettable qualities that he would bring to so many more prominent roles as his career progressed forward. He is still deeply missed, so if you're looking for a piece of his filmography you might have let fall through the cracks, this could be a good one to check out.